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Game Of Thrones: Tropes A to B
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  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Any blade made from Valyrian steel, as the forging secrets (long since lost) allow them to keep their edge way longer than regular steel.
  • Abusive Parents: Several.
    • Tywin Lannister, who dominates and demeans each of his children.
    • Craster, who rapes his daughters and sacrifices his sons to the White Walkers.
    • Samwell Tarly joined the Night's Watch when his father threatened to arrange a Hunting Accident.
    • Balon Greyjoy who greeted his only surviving son with scorn and refused to even consider ransoming him when he was captured.
  • Action Girl: Cultures throughout the world see women of action in a variety of lights, from acceptance to scorn.
    • Arya Stark practices swordplay and looks up to fellow action girls from Westerosi history, such as Visenya Targaryen, sister of Aegon the Conqueror, and Nymeria, Warrior Queen of the Rhoynar (after whom she names her direwolf).
    • Brienne of Tarth is a large and strong woman whose one want in life is to be a knight. She has dealt her entire life with the scorn of others for her choice of a non-traditional role.
    • Yara Greyjoy. After her older brothers were killed in battle and her younger brother taken hostage, she was the only child of the Greyjoy line left and took on the role her eldest brother would have served at her father's side.
    • Wildling spearwives such as Ygritte and Osha.
    • Meera Reed is skilled with weapons and acts as her brother Jojen's protector.
  • Actually That's My Assistant: Jon mistakes Tormund Giantsbane for Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall. Tormund and Mance are quite amused.
    Tormund: 'Your Grace?' (to others) Did you hear that? From now on, you better kneel every time I fart!
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Jorah Mormont in the book is hairy, balding, and "not handsome," which is a stark contrast to how he looks in the series (played by Iain Glen). Eloquently demonstrated here.
    • Tyrion Lannister is described as having not only dwarfism but also a deformed face. Peter Dinklage portrays him without facial deformity and is even called rather handsome by Margaery. The facial wound he receives on the Blackwater is also much less grievous than in the books, in which he loses most of his nose.
    • Ned Stark is described as "plain" in the book, but is played by Mr. Fanservice stalwart Sean Bean.
    • Robin Arryn is a normal-looking child in the show, while in the books he's sickly and small for his age, constantly has a runny nose and watery eyes, and suffers bouts of shaking fits.
    • In the books, Dagmer Cleftjaw has a horrible scar that splits his lower face in half. In the show, the scar is in the left side of his face and is not that noticeable.
    • Brienne is described as extremely ugly in the books, but she's fairly average, apart from her height, in the series. She is, however, much plainer than her actress is in real life.
    • Ygritte is described in the book as as short for her age, skinny but well-muscled, with a round face, small hands, a pug nose, and crooked white teeth, but considered beautiful by Jon. In the series, she is played by the conventionally attractive Rose Leslie.
    • Arya Stark is usually described as "horse-faced". In the series, she is round-faced and cute.
    • In the books, Osha is said to hardly look like a woman. She's lean, tall and covered in scars, with a hard face. In the show, she's played by Natalia Tena, an attractive actress with a feminine and unblemished physique. Her costuming, including a shapeless robe and scraggly hair, goes a way towards toning it down. And in one Series 2 episode, she uses her body to seduce male characters twice.
    • Ramsay Bolton is explicitly described as ugly, having worm-like lips and creepy pale eyes. His actor in the show is quite handsome.
    • In the books, Yezzan zo Qaggaz is so morbidly obese that he cannot stand properly. In the series, he is played by Enzo Cilenti, who is not in the slightest bit ugly or overweight.note 
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • In the books, Brienne has a very awkward and insecure personality, while in the show she's far more confident and bossy. In the books, she's a skilled swordfighter, but tends to just barely survive her encounters. She's on the losing side of her fight with Loras before she tackles him, and only manages to defeat Jaime because of his emaciated condition. In the show, she defeats both Loras and Jaime rather handily and even defeats Sandor Clegane in both swordfighting and brawling.
    • Ned in the books is only an average swordsman for his social class, while his older brother was a bigger and better fighter. In the show, Ned has a reputation as a very strong swordsman and even matches the Kingslayer during their duel. Littlefinger also calls Ned "an even more impressive specimen" than his older brother.
    • In the novels, Stannis Baratheon may not be a slouch, but he prefers to lead as a general instead of at the front like his brother Robert. Not so in the show, where he leads the storm of King's Landing personally.
    • Ramsay Snow is described in the books as "like a butcher with a sword" by his own father, as he wasn't taught by a master-at-arms, but instead by the original Reek. In the show he is shown to be quite a skilled fighter and bowman.
    • In the novels, Ygritte is a bold spearwife, but never considered a particularly notable fighter. In the show, she's a deadly archer who never misses a shot and kills more northmen than anyone else in her raiding party.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Several characters are presented as more sympathetic than they are in the books.
    • Cersei Lannister gets several scenes in Season 1 that underline her miserable marriage to Robert, her sympathy for Bran Stark's injury that she caused, and her main virtue (love for her family, save Tyrion). Two of her biggest Kick the Dog moments from the second book are done by Joffrey instead. She also recognizes Joffrey's madness and regrets what he's become, while in the books, she defends all of his actions, and finds him perfect. Her relationship with Tyrion is also considerably less antagonistic. They still don't like each other much, but they at least share a modicum of respect and even understanding, while in the books their relationship is nothing short of absolute mutual hatred.
    • Renly Baratheon is changed from a prideful Sleazy Politician with entitlement issues to a serious and thoughtful young man who rebels against Joffrey out of a genuine sense that he'd be better at the job. The TV character is more intelligent than his book counterpart (who dismissed books because he believed they should only be read by maesters), and Gethin Anthony has stated in this featurette that Renly is "very educated." His main Kick the Dog moment (mocking Brienne of Tarth behind her back) is changed to genuinely respecting her abilities and service.
    • In the books, it's left ambiguous for a long time whether Shae really loves Tyrion or is Only in It for the Money. The latter interpretation is very difficult to take away from the show's version of the character, given her jealousy at the prospect of anyone else taking him from her. Serving as a Cool Big Sister to Sansa is also original to the show.
    • Tywin in the books is a Jerkass Magnificent Bastard chessmaster who has little regard for his children except for what they can do to further his agenda, and is willing to do whatever it takes to secure the Lannister's power base. In the series, he's still stern and at times cold, but is more of a Pragmatic Villain who believes he's doing what must be done instead of the complete asshole he comes across as in the books. He also has a different role in Season 2 compared to "A Clash of Kings" that casts him into the role of Arya's master instead of Weese and Roose Bolton, making her a Morality Pet that brings out a softer and more obviously paternal side before he leaves her.
    • Theon's motivations (his feelings of rejection, his desire to belong to at least one of his families, and belated realization that he wanted to be a Stark) as well as his horror at his own actions are shown much more clearly and earlier than in the books.
    • Tyrion Lannister is "the grayest of the gray" in the books, per George R. R. Martin. The show omits virtually all of the less than heroic aspects of his character in favour of making him a more traditional protagonist. He also benefits from the aforementioned adaptational heroism of his girlfriend Shae, whose much more sympathetic character changes what was originally a purely shallow relationship based on Tyrion's misguided perception of her into a genuine love affair.
    • In the novels Sandor Clegane goes to Sansa's room during the Battle of Blackwater with the apparent intention of raping her, throwing Sansa onto the bed with a knife at her throat. The show has their confrontation be much less frightening, making her refusal to escape with Sandor to the North less understandable.
    • In both book and show, the final reason Jon gives for switching sides and joining the Wildlings is implied to be at least partially honest. In the books, he says that he's rebelling against the treatment he received for being a bastard, while in the show he says he wants to join the side fighting against the White Walkers. The change paints him in a more heroic light.
  • Adaptational Modesty:
    • The show is no stranger to nudity; however, scenes in Qarth do not depict the custom of women wearing gowns that expose one breast, as described in the books, mainly because this would have been way too distracting.
    • The scene where Eddard and Catelyn receive the letter from Lysa claiming that it was the Lannisters who murdered Jon Arryn has both of them clothed, whereas they were naked in the books as they had just finished making love.
    • Due to laws about child nudity, a scene where Sansa Stark is stripped naked is changed to just having her dress ripped (with the implication that it would have gone further had Tyrion not intervened). Tyrion also spares her from having to undress on their wedding night; in the book, he doesn't back off from consummating the marriage until everyone's naked.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the books, it is left somewhat ambiguous whether Mirri Maz Duur sabotaged Drogo's wound since Drogo later went back to his traditional remedies. This is omitted from the TV series, but both versions are explicit that Mirri wanted him dead.
    • In the books, Xaro Xoan Daxos wants nothing more than to marry Dany so he can get control of one of her dragons, but in the show he allies with the warlocks to assassinate the rest of the Thirteen and seize control of the city, then imprison Daenerys and steal all of the dragons.
    • In the books, Doreah is a loyal servant. In a cut scene from the show, she strangles Irri to death and helps Xaro steal Dany's dragons.
    • Stannis nearly strangles Melisandre in "Valar Morghulis". In the novels, he was never physically violent towards a woman. Unlike his book counterpart, Stannis on the show is much more willing to sacrifice his nephew (Gendry on the TV series, Edric in the novels) to the Lord of Light.
    • Joffrey is a horrific power-crazed psychopath in the books, but his show counterpart's taste for sexual violence against prostitutes is an exaggeration (or perhaps an extrapolation, given his age-up) of his sadistic streak. He also treats Cersei far worse, and two of Cersei's biggest Kick the Dog moments in the books are done by him instead.
    • In the books, Littlefinger isn't involved in anything so vile as serving up his prostitutes to necrophiliacs and serial killers. On the whole, his villainy is much more overt in the show.
    • In the books, Rast is just a bully who must be convinced to leave Sam Tarly alone. In the show, he is upgraded to a prominent mutineer who actively wants Sam dead and personally murders Lord Commander Mormont.
    • In the show, Khal Drogo effectively rapes Dany on their wedding night. However, in the book, he behaves much more gently, coaxing her with a lot of foreplay until she ultimately gives her consent.
    • Jaime gets extra villainous actions than he had in the book, including murdering a member of his house whilst imprisoned by Robb. In Season 4, his sex scene with Cersei is considerably more forceful than that described in the book, causing many viewers to regard it as rape.
    • In the books, the Thenns are more traditionally civilized than other Wildlings, characterized by their higher technology and greater respect for authority. In the show, they're changed into a group of scarred up, gleefully sadistic cannibals that disgust even the other Wildling raiders.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Renly's book counterpart is a big, burly man with an enthusiasm for jousts and battle, though not much skill. On the show, he's of smaller stature and dislikes violence.
    • While both page and screen versions of Janos Slynt have a Small Name, Big Ego, in the show he's also made into a Dirty Coward.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The show is an adaptation of a series of fantasy Doorstopper novels. Even with about 10 hours of screen time devoted to each book, there is a lot of condensing, particularly in the form of reducing the number and combining the roles of various characters. Individual scenes often convey the same plot-critical information as their book counterparts, but superfluous banter between characters or world-building exposition is toned down.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • In the books, all the Stark kids except Jon and Arya are redheads like their mother. In the series, Sansa and Robb are the only redheads (Robb's is especially dark, but it is definitely red), Bran is Stark-colored and Rickon is a dark shade of blond.
    • The Lannisters have bright gold curls in the books, while in the show they all have straight hair, which tends to be a dirtier blond.
    • The distinctive Baratheon black hair seems to be dark brown in the show, as is the case with Robert, Renly, Gendry, and Shireen.
    • Loras and Margaery from the novels have brown eyes, but their TV counterparts are blue-eyed. Moreover, the forest green of the Tyrells' clothing has been replaced with teal on the show. The teal color gives the characters a softer, gentler look onscreen, emphasizing the "silk" part of the family's Silk Hiding Steel philosophy. Michele Clapton elaborates on this chromatic change in the March 28, 2014 issue of Entertainment Weekly.
      "Usually I would use the sigil colours as a base palette," she says (which for a Tyrell would mean gold and green). But Clapton was careful not to give away the family's motives. "To be too overt would have shown their hand."
      • The one major exception is Loras' green-and-gold sparring outfit in "Kissed by Fire". As he is simply practicing his swordplay, there isn't a need for him to disguise the fact that he is a formidable Tyrell warrior.
  • Adaptation Expansion: By focusing on a more limited number of storylines and characters, the series also has the opportunity to expand on some aspects of the story.
    • In the episode "Oathkeeper," it is explicitly shown what the White Walkers did with Craster's sons, something that has never been described in the books.
    • Both Tywin and Catelyn's relationship with their respective unfavorite child is expanded upon. Both admit that they once wished death on the child, repented of that impulse, but still could not bring themselves to love him.
    • Xaro Xoan Daxos is given a much more detailed backstory and motivation.
    • The poisoners of Joffrey are revealed and openly state their motivations for the deed, whereas in the books it is all left implied.
    • In the books, Renly and Loras's relationship is only subtly implied to even exist, and the bedroom dynamics of Renly's marriage with Margaery are never revealed. The show reveals how Renly and Loras behave as lovers as well as the realities of Renly's marriage bed.
    • We see the actions of Night's Watch mutineers at Craster's Keep, whereas the books only subtly imply what happens to them.
    • The introductory scene for Tywin where he is skinning a stag while lecturing Jaime is unique to the show.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • In the books, Khal Drogo removes Mirri Maz Dur's poultice, relies on the Dothraki healers instead, and his wound gets infected. This lends some credibility to Mirri, who criticized the Dothraki methods. In the TV series, they use Mirri's method, Drogo gets infected anyway, and Daenerys still trusts her to heal him. It's even heavily hinted that Mirri wanted him to die. It all makes Dany seem naive and oddly trusting of someone she knows little about.
    • In the second season, The Hound offers to help Sansa escape while he's fleeing the city. She refuses, as she does in the books. In the books her situation is less perilous and she already has a plot to escape of her own. In the show, however, she has no other alternative, so there's no motive for her to refuse so out of hand.
    • The Three-eyed Crow tells Bran that he has been watching over him with "a thousand eyes and one," despite having two eyes rather than one.
  • Adaptation Induced Plot Hole:
    • In the intro to the novel A Game of Thrones, the last surviving Night's Watchman is Gared, who stays with the horses during the Others' attack and flees when he hears fighting. In the series, the sole survivor is Will, who we see come face-to-face with the White Walkers. How or why he survived is never explained.
    • A similar event occurs in the Season 2 Finale: The White Walkers are shown looking at and walking past Sam, despite having no explained reason to leave him alive. In the prologue to A Storm of Swords (the chapter which this scene is drawn from), Sam is with the rest of the Night's Watch and doesn't explicitly come face to face with the Others.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • The White Walkers are called "Others" by Westerosi main culture in the books. The show uses the wildling term for these beings because Capital Letters Are Magic doesn't come across in spoken lines, and it avoids any inadvertent reference to LOST.
    • Asha Greyjoy is renamed Yara to avoid confusion with Osha.
    • Robert Arryn is renamed Robin (after an In Universe Nickname from the books) to avoid confusion with Robert Baratheon.
    • Two Slaver's Bay characters: Grazdan mo Ullhor of Astapor is renamed Greizhen mo Ullhor, while Grazdan mo Eraz of Yunkai is renamed Razdal mo Eraz. Apparently Grazdan is the Ghiscari equivalent of "Joe".
    • The Three-Eyed Raven is a Three-Eyed Crow in the book, which is a species change in truth.
  • Adapted Out: Dozens of characters (including those with fairly important subplots) don't make it from page to screen — justified, of course as the books have Loads and Loads of Characters, even moreso than the show. Major examples include:
    • The Brave Companions. Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter join the Lannister army instead. Their roles after they go over to Roose Bolton are substituted by a group of Bolton men-at-arms led by Locke, Bolton's Dragon.
    • Willas and Garlan Tyrell, whose roles have been delegated to either Loras or Margaery.
    • Stannis' main supporters: House Florent.
    • The Spicers and Westerlings in favor of Canon Foreigner Talisa.
    • Cersei's Hired Swords, the brothers Kettleblack.
    • Coldhands.
    • Barristan Selmy's traveling companion Strong Belwas.
    • Lady Stoneheart does not appear in the TV series.
  • Adipose Rex:
    • King Robert. He used to be a great warrior, but got fat while on the throne.
    • Magister Illyrio is overweight and has a high rank in Pentos.
    • The Spice King is fat and apparently leads the Thirteen of Qarth.
  • Adopt the Dog: After a moment of consideration, Renly grants Brienne's wish to join his Kingsguard. It would've been easier for him to adhere to everyone else's expectations by rejecting her request (he was presumably pondering the consequences of having a female protector during the brief pause), but he chooses to do the right thing by giving the position to a warrior who earned it, regardless of her gender. The reaction to Brienne's appointment is fairly negative; his bannermen audibly gasp, his wife gives him a Disapproving Look, and his lover berates him for it later that evening, but Renly sticks firmly to his decision.
  • Adult Fear: Families trying to protect their own is a major theme in the series. When they fail, it's this trope.
    • Catelyn Stark comes to believe her entire family has been lost. Her husband is executed, one daughter married to an enemy, and all the others are presumed dead.
    • The death of Joffrey Baratheon as his mother looks on helplessly.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Rory McCann, who plays Sandor Clegane, gets about a handful of lines per season, most of them short, and has gone at least a couple of episodes with no lines at all, or only one scene. He's billed as a regular for both seasons.
    • Harry Lloyd appeared in five episodes. Credited as a regular for all of them.
    • Season 2 is worse; out of 25 actors credited in the opening sequence, fewer than half of them actually appear regularly. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Rory McCann appear in only half the season; Carice Van Houten, Natalie Dormer and James Cosmo appear in less than half the season. Cosmo himself is in only three episodes.
    • Conleth Hill and James Cosmo both appear in FEWER episodes after they are promoted to the opening titles, though they both cast even larger shadows in Season 2.
    • Season 2 copes with this problem by changing its opening titles for each episode, depending on who's actually in the episode, rather than who has what contract with HBO. Most prominently, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau appears in only a few episodes, but when he does, he's always the third billed behind Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey.
    • Played about as straight as possible in "First of His Name". Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) doesn't appear, so Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gets top billing, despite his only role in the episode being standing silently watching Tommen's coronation.
  • Aerith and Bob: Well, Aerys and Robb. People from Westeros tend to have European names, some familiar (Robert, Jon) and others more exotic (Eddard, Sandor), while others still are typical European names with odd spellings (Olyvar, Petyr). People whose families hail from outside Westeros, such as the Dothraki and the Targaryens, have fantastical names (Aerys, Drogo).
  • Affably Evil:
    • Jaime is usually all smirks and witty remarks. He has a few friendly conversations with various characters, but can also be arrogant and casually condescending as well. Over the course of Season 3, he gets some character development.
    • Bronn is witty and charming, with a laid-back personality, but he's also a ruthless killer who will do just about anything for the right price. Sandor Clegane is particularly annoyed by the fact that Bronn can pretend to be a nice guy, while someone like Sandor must wear his brutality on his sleeve.
  • Afraid of Blood: Renly is squeamish around anything which is the least bit gory.
  • Age Lift:
    • In the books, the Ned/Robert/Catelyn/Cersei/Jaime generation are in their early to mid 30s while the Dany/Jon/Robb generation are in their early-to-mid teens. In the show, the older generation is implied to be somewhere in their early to mid 40s depending on the character (Jaime and Cersei are outright stated to be 40 in the Season 4 opener, which is roughly three years after the first episode). The youths in the show are all aged up several years and are played by actors in their late teens to late 20s. According to the showrunners, this was also done partly because they didn't want to have to deal with 'kid' actors and partly because by casting older, any changes the kids might undergo as part of their aging would be less noticeable than if they'd cast them age appropriately. It also helps avoid the legal hurdles and Deliberate Values Dissonance of underage actors in sex scenes. This doesn't quite work for Bran, as Isaac Hempstead-Wright was 11-12 at the time of filming, playing a ten-year-old. But as about two years pass in the story, about three passed in real life and Isaac very obviously hit puberty on the way, with his voice deepening considerably around Season 3. Mitigated somewhat by Isaac's slight build and the fact that he spends a large portion of the series being carried around by the massive Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor.
    • In the books, Missandei is ten years old, while in the show she's an adult.
  • Agent Peacock: Loras may be a young, Pretty Boy fop, but that doesn't make him any less dangerous. He's one of the best knights in the realm, and he's a hero of the Battle of Blackwater, where he killed a lot of Stannis' soldiers.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Viserys' death, which is treated as rather pathetic and sad after the character's sneering villainy through most of the show.
    • Doreah, who screams for forgiveness rather pathetically. Interestingly, the character's villainous actions were left on the cutting room floor, making it rather ambiguous as to whether she was a willing participant in the villany. This, along with it being Adaptational Villainy from the books (where she was good to the end), makes it all the worse.
    • Despite being the go-to character for Kick the Dog, Joffrey's death early in Season 4 is very poignant, especially the case of Cersei's reaction.
    • Ygritte's death in Jon's arms during the Battle of Castle Black is crushingly sad, despite the character becoming very, very dark very, very quickly.
  • The Alliance: Robert's Rebellion, which gathered four of the eight Great Houses against the King.
  • All There in the Manual: The Complete Guide to Westeros included in the Bluray releases. The Season 2 Bluray includes not only the Histories & Lore section by also a War of the Five Kings feature that explains stuff like the origin of the Brotherhood Without Banners, the Houses that declare for Renly and then for Stannis, and even why the Greatjon is missing from Season 2.
  • All There in the Script:
    • Dany's dragons are called Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion, but you wouldn't know it if you hadn't read the books. Drogon's name finally gets Info Dropped in the Season 4 finale, thirty episodes after his introduction.
    • Since "wight" and "white" are homophones, casual viewers can confuse the "wights" (reanimated corpses) and the "White Walkers" (the creatures who reanimate them).
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • Theon Greyjoy takes Winterfell with a tiny force thanks to a feint and holds it for a while in Season 2.
    • Robb Stark has this in mind for the Lannisters in Season 3.
  • Almighty Janitor: Hobb, the cook at Castle Black, proves he's a full-fledged member of the Night's Watch by defending his kitchen from some Wildlings with a cooking pot and a big-ass cleaver.
  • Alternate Reality Game: The Maester's Path
  • Alternate Universe: Game of Thrones Ascent, which follows the plot and events of the TV show (such as the death of Rakharo or Xaro Xhoan Daxos' betrayal) but incorporates elements of the novels: like Vaes Tolorro or Catelyn taking two Freys as wards.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Valyrian steel weapons are so valuable they are usually these. Examples include Ice of House Stark and Longclaw of House Mormont. House Lannister lacks such a sword, so after defeating House Stark, Tywin Lannister has Ice reforged into two Valyrian swords for his House. Jaime's sword is named Oathkeeper after he gives it to Brienne, and Joffrey dubs his Widow's Wail.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Night's Watch.
  • And Another Thing...: Tywin Lannister ends some meetings with an afterthought. His hostile distaste for Tyrion's whoremonging ends two political conversations with his son, and when Tywin is heading for the door after a one-sided audience with King Joffrey, he feels the need to add a last second pleasantry, so he turns back and utters a condescending "Your Grace".
  • And I Must Scream: This fate is planned for Daenerys Targaryen at the end of Season 2; she ends up turning the tables with the same exact punishment for Xaro and Doreah.
  • And Starring:
    • Peter Dinklage gets the "and" credit at the end in the first season. Starting with the second, he receives first billing.
    • Jason Momoa is given "also starring" as his billing — rather unusually, this appears in the end credits, after the guest stars have been listed.
    • Starting with Season 4, Iain Glen receives the more prominent "with" credit at the end of the cast list.
  • Animal Motifs: Used both for Houses and individual nicknames.
    • Many noble Houses have animal sigils and these frequently say something metaphorical about the House. It is implied that some Houses have a paranormal affinity for their House animal; the Targaryens once rode dragons, Daenerys displays an immunity to fire several times, and the Stark children seem to have a mystical bond with their direwolves.
    • The traditional sigil of House Baratheon, a black stag on a yellow field, is associated with King Robert in the series. His successors each have their own version: Joffrey gives his mother's Lannister lion equal place with the stag, Stannis encases the stag within the flaming heart of the Lord of Light, and Renly incorporates the colors of his wife's (and lover's) family to create a gold stag on a green field.
    • The astrolabe sun in the opening tells part of the backstory using sigils: the stag (Baratheon), the direwolf (Stark), the dragon (Targaryen), and the lion (Lannister). The dragon takes over and rules Westeros, then proceeds to go nuts, so the stag, lion, and direwolf slay it; the stag now wears a crown and the wolf and lion bow to it. This is a metaphor for the fall of the Targaryens 17 years before the show starts.
    • The sigils next to the actors' names also correspond to their characters' Houses.
    • Varys is frequently referred to as the Spider, because he has a web of spies.
    • The sigil of House Clegane is three black dogs. Sandor Clegane is known as "The Hound," and in a manner of speaking acts as a hound for Joffrey Baratheon. His older brother Ser Gregor is sometimes described as "Tywin Lannister's mad dog" because he is ferocious but obedient to Tywin.
    • Littlefinger chose his own sigil: a humble mockingbird to maintain his harmless facade.
    • Ravens and crows are a running motif. Ravens are used to send messages, Brannote  sees a three-eyed crow in his dreams, and wildlings refer to Night's Watchmen as "crows" because of their black uniforms. Crows or ravens tend to swarm when White Walkers are afoot beyond the Wall. The birds are also common in promotional artwork.
  • Animal Eye Spy:
    • An early symptom of Bran's ability to warg is when this begins happening in his dreams.
    • The wildlings make good use of wargs like Orell as scouts.
  • Anyone Can Die: The series has become a poster child for this trope. Not even characters who make it in the books are safe (see Death by Adaptation). It's lampshaded by Arya in the Season 2 trailer: "Anyone can be killed."note  When in doubt, always remember: Valar Morghulis.note  The series itself runs with the trope, and the following characters prove it:
    • Season 1: Lady (Sansa's direwolf), Jory Cassel, Viserys Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark, Septa Mordane, all of House Stark's men in King's Landing, Khal Drogo, and Mirri Maz Duur. The execution of Ned Stark is generally identified as the true establishment of the trope with regards to this series, since the character and actor Sean Bean were promoted as being the series' lead.
    • Season 2: Cressen, Rakharo, Yoren, Lommy Greenhands, Renly Baratheon, The Tickler, Ser Rodrik Cassel, Ser Amory Lorch, Irri, Alton Lannister, The Thirteen, Matthos Seaworth, Ser Mandon Moore, Maester Luwin, Qhorin Halfhand, Pyat Pree, and most likely Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Doreah.
    • Season 3: Craster, Jeor Mormont, Kraznys mo Nakloz, Willem and Martyn Lannister, Rickard Karstark, Ros, Orell, Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, Talisa Stark, Grey Wind (Robb's direwolf).
    • Season 4: Polliver, Joffrey Baratheon, Locke, Karl Tanner, Rast, Rorge, Biter, Lysa Arryn, Oberyn Martell, Pyp, Styr, Ygritte, Grenn, Jojen Reed, Shae, Tywin Lannister.
    • A promo for Season 4 that aired at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con Game of Thrones panel parodied this with an "in memorium" video for all the characters that had died in the first three seasons. The ad campaign leading up to Season 4 also played heavily on the tagline "Valar Morghulis" — All Men Must Die".
    • The "Beautiful Death" officially supported Fan Art features artwork of every named character's death, released a few days after each episode. It averages to nearly one named character's death every three episodes.
  • Appeal to Force: A recurring theme of the series. Aegon the Conqueror didn't seize the kingdoms because he had any claim or right, he seized them because he could. Power may come from knowledge, the gods, or be derived from the law, but ultimately a swordsman decides whether the king, the priest, or the rich man live or die.
    Lord Tywin: You really think a crown gives you power?
    Tyrion: No, I think armies give you power.
  • Appropriated Appellation:
    • Tyrion recommends this to Jon Snow: "Let me give you some advice, bastard: never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."
    • Davos was knighted for his services smuggling food (onions among it) and was disparagingly called "the Onion Knight" by some. His response was to put an onion on his personal arms.
  • The Archer:
    • Theon is shown to be an excellent one in Season 1.
    • Joffrey is obsessed with crossbows and actually has impressive aim.
    • Anguy can angle a shot to come straight down on a target only a few feet in front of him.
    • Ramsay Snow is shown to be this in "Walk of Punishment", when he quickly shoots all of the guards about to rape Theon.
  • Arc Number: Used in-universe in the Seven Kingdoms with the Faith of the Seven, worshiped primarily in the south. There are seven gods, seven Kingsguards, seven hells, etc. Perhaps by coincidence, the soundtrack to the second season trailer is "Seven Devils" by Florence and the Machine.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Winter is coming."
    • "Don't wake the Dragon" and later "Fire and Blood" in the Daenerys arc.
    • "The night is dark and full of terrors."
    • "The dragons are dead".
    • "What is dead may never die."
    • "A Lannister always pays his debts."
    • "Valar Morghulis"(All Men Must Die) for Arya Stark and the Tagline for Season 4.
    • In Season 4 : "Wars are rather expensive."
  • An Arm and a Leg: In "Walk of Punishment", Jaime Lannister has his right hand cut off.
  • Armor Is Useless: A running theme that is often Played Straight and Averted depending on the circumstances and kind of fighting styles and situations involved.
    • Ser Hugh is killed in a joust when he's struck in the neck by a splinter of Gregor Clegane's lance. In the books, it's explained that he lacked a squire and so did not put on his gorget correctly; in the show he is clearly under-armored compared to his opponent and it's subtly implied the armor was sabotaged.
    • Syrio Forel defeats several armored guards with a wooden practice sword, knocking a few out by hitting them on the helmet before Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard breaks the stick.
    • Ser Jorah Mormont debates the merits of armor with Rakharo. Jorah argues that armor will make an arakh useless, while Rakharo believes speed trumps protection. Jorah is right, as Qotho fatally discovers.
    • Reconstructed when Bronn champions Tyrion against Ser Vardis Egan. Bronn refuses a shield and wears almost no armor, using his speed and maneuverability to simply evade his opponent until Egan's heavy armor exhausts him and makes him a sitting duck.
    • Subverted as well when the Hound gives Arya a chance to show what swordplay she knows, and Needle bounces off his chestplate effortlessly.
    • The long-awaited Oberyn and Mountain duel is a fascinating glimpse of this. Oberyn wears light armor and no helmet to give him speed, while the Mountain is a walking Tank covered in chainmail and metal helmet, Oberyn wields a very sharp spear that proves effective in piercing Gregor Clegane and he ends up defeating him and flat on the mat, he could have easily won had he not delayed the Coup de Grâce.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • When Renly asks Ned, "Tell me something: do you still believe good soldiers make good kings?" the older man remains silent.
    • Theon delivers an epic one to his father.
      Balon: "We do not sow. We are Ironborn! We are not subjects, we are not slaves. We do not plow the fields, nor toil in the mine. We take what is ours! Your time with the wolves has made you weak!"
      Theon: "You act as if I volunteered! You gave me away, if you remember?! The day you bent the knee to Robert Baratheon! After he crushed you! Did you take what was yours then?"
    • Theon is on the receiving end later, from Bran: "Did you hate us the whole time?" He didn't, but he's torn between loyalty to his birth family and birth culture (which he succeeded in holding onto, despite what Balon Greyjoy thinks) and the adoptive family he loves and probably loved him (at least Robb did) but always kept him feeling like an outsider.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: The Night's Watch, which offers atonement for anyone who joins, and the outlaws of the Brotherhood Without Banners.
  • Arranged Marriage: These are a common political tool among the nobility of Westeros. Some are happy, such as Ned and Catelyn, and others are not, such as Robert and Cersei. Many are against the will of one or both parties, such as Daenerys and Drogo or Tyrion and Sansa. The political consequences also make breaking a marriage pact Serious Business. In fact, this is what gets Robb Stark murdered.
  • Artifact Title: In-universe, the "Seven Kingdoms" is a reference to the political composition of Westeros before Aegon became the Conqueror (The Riverlands were ruled by the Ironborn, and the Crownlands didn't exist). Following Aegon's conquest, the name remained, but there was really only one kingdom, divided into nine regions.
  • Artistic License – Biology: We're told that the Targaryens often married brother and sister to keep their bloodline pure over their 300 year reign, with an inference that they'd been doing it prior to Aegon's conquest, as well. In reality, severe mental and physical debilitation would result from this level of inbreeding (Charles II of Spain is a good historical example of the result). Instead, the Targaryens are physically flawless and only suffer from occasional instances of madness. It's implied that there's more than a little magic in their bloodline, which might be a mitigating factor.
  • Ascended Extra: Ros, a Canon Foreigner, was originally intended only for Tyrion's introductory scene, but the producers liked the actress and expanded her character into additional scenes, eventually turning her into a fairly major supporting character.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Jaime talks about how he idolized Barristan Selmy as a boy. When he grew up, he became Barristan's comrade in the Kingsguard.
  • Asexuality: Varys claims to have been asexual even before he got castrated. He certainly has no interest at present, as he abhors what desire can lead to because so many people lust for power that it has lead to a huge civil war, although it may be his personal rationalization after the fact.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Ser Hugh dismissed Jory simply because he wasn't a knight. This was despite him being a squire up until recently. He dies painfully at the hands of Gregor Clegane shortly afterwards.
    • The obnoxious singer Marillion gets his tongue cut out after mocking the recently deceased king in the kingdom's capital, which Joffrey found out about.
    • After the Red Wedding, Arya and the Hound happen on four soldiers reveling about it i.e., the murder of her family. Their being rude when Arya approaches them with the intent to kill doesn't help their case.
    • Also Joffrey, who spends his final episode putting his Jerkass personality on full display.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • Robert Baratheon won the Iron Throne this way, but proves to be a very ineffectual ruler who hates the job.
    • Each Dothraki khalassar is led by the most badass warrior present. Leadership can pass from father to son (Drogo's father Bharbo was khal before him), but it is not an inherited title and each khal must fight constantly to defeat his rivals and appease his supporters with victory.
    • The Wildlings value charisma and martial skill far above lineage or rank. To become King-Beyond-the-Wall like Mance Rayder means subjecting or defeating every other contender, one way or another.
    • Even in the Seven Kingdoms where people do respect birth and rank, Jaime Lannister fears what will happen to his authority if people realize he can barely wipe his own ass anymore.
  • As You Know:
    • Jaime begins his first conversation with Cersei by mentioning he is her brother for the benefit of the audience. The original pilot apparently left this info All There in the Script so during rewrites the writers set out to make sure the audience understood the significance of them having sex.
    • Tyrion spells out Jon's place in the Stark family to Jon himself, which is justified as firmly reminding him that no one else will ever forget he's a bastard, so he shouldn't try to deny it.
    • Jaime gives Jon a lot of exposition about the Wall and the Night's Watch, framed as a subtle warning about what he's getting himself into.
    • Lampshaded with the reveal about Varys: "Did you know Lord Varys is a eunuch?" "Everyone knows that!" (This may be part of Pycell's senility act).
    • Tyrion describes the Greyjoy rebellion and why Theon Greyjoy is the Stark's ward to Theon himself. Maester Luwin is also fond of doing this. Of course in both cases they're just reminding Theon that he is not as awesome, important, or even welcome as he thinks.
    • In the second season, Stannis recounts the reason he knighted Davos to Davos himself to explain why he considers Davos his best knight.
    • In "The Climb", Tywin says to Olenna "I'm sure you're familiar with the Kingsguard vows," and proceeds to list them, anyway.
    • Lady Arryn explains to Littlefinger what evil acts he told her to do earlier. The viewer is the only one who didn't already know this.
  • Attempted Rape:
    • Sansa Stark is almost gang-raped during the riot at King's Landing. The timely (and gruesome,) intervention of the Hound stopped it.
    • Theon Greyjoy was nearly raped at one point in the woods when he was saved by Ramsey Snow with an arrow through the chest of his would be rapist. Although arguably the former fate might have been kinder.
    • Brienne is nearly raped by the Bolton soldiers, though Jaime manages to have Locke stop them with the promise of a ransom by her father.
  • Audible Sharpness:
    • Near the start of the first episode, a couple of spears make little metallic scraping noises simply from being pointed at someone.
    • Played straight with quite a few swords and spears in the second half of the season.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • There are several examples of men in power due to their birth who are (or were) still fearsome fighters, such as Jaime Lannister and Robert Baratheon. King Stannis Baratheon takes the cake when he personally leads the assault over the wall of King's Landing in "Blackwater", and fights like a One-Man Army.
    • Tyrion Lannister gives a justification for this trope when he notes that the social elite get much better equipment and are trained from birth in combat. Jon Snow finds this out when he joins the Watch and his lowborn fellow recruits barely know which end of a sword to hold.
  • Authority in Name Only:
    • Tywin Lannister royally emasculates Joffrey and has no problem implying it to His Grace.
      Tywin: Any man who must say "I am the king" is no true king.
      And shortly after to Tyrion.
      Tywin: You're a fool if you think that boy is the most powerful man in the seven kingdoms.
    • Littlefinger, Lord of Harrenhal, is mocked because his title amounts to nothing while the Northern army occupies the Riverlands.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • Aegon the Conqueror deliberately had the Iron Throne made so it would be both awe-inspiring and uncomfortable to sit on.
    • Harrenhal is the greatest fortress in the Seven Kingdoms. It's also a logistical nightmare, practically impossible to man and govern properly, which is why the Lannister troops abandon it, rather than defend it, when the Northern army arrives.
  • Awesome McCoolname: In a world of fantasy such as Game of Thrones, it's pretty much standard.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning:
    • In "Fire and Blood", we get two: first, the Stark bannermen proclaim Robb the King in the North following Eddard's death, and then Daenerys proclaims herself the new leader of the khalasar after Drogo's death.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Khal Drogo really didn't care all that much about Westeros, until Robert tried to have Daenerys assassinated. Then he becomes hell-bent on vengeance.
  • An Axe to Grind: Loras wields an axe during his melee with Brienne.
    • Tyrion himself uses a double-bladed axe to chop the leg off a soldier of Stannis' army during the Battle of Blackwater.

    B 
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: A three-way version with Jorah, Daario and Grey Worm in Yunkai.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Arya Stark and Sandor Clegane, sticking together because he wants a ransom from her aunt and she realises she can't survive on her own. Hostile at first, they eventually begin to grudgingly respect each other.
  • Badass Army: The Unsullied, who undergo training clearly inspired by the ancient Spartans.
  • Badass Boast:
    • The words of many noble Houses are one — Bran mentions House Baratheon's "Ours is the Fury," House Greyjoy's "We Do Not Sow," and House Martell's "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken" in one episode. One exception is the Starks' "Winter is Coming," but Robb Stark manages to use it as a Badass Boast, anyways:
      Robb: "Tell Lord Tywin that winter is coming for him."
    • "The Prince of Winterfell" features a Badass Boast from Tyrion to Cersei: "I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you will know the debt is paid."
      • Unfortunately, this is subverted, because not only does he not carry through with it, it's the main reason for Cersei's hatred for him following Joffrey's death.
    • Olenna Tyrell is frustrated that House Tyrell doesn't have a badass boast or a big scary animal on their coat of arms; their symbol is a golden rose and their motto is "Growing Strong", which she describes as the dullest words of any house.
  • Badass Bookworm: Samwell Tarly, Butt Monkey of the Night's Watch, whose only knowledge of the world comes from books, becomes the first person in thousands of years to kill a White Walker.
  • Badass Bystander: Hobb, who is mentioned in passing a few times as the Castle Black cook but is basically just a background extra, gets a whole sequence dedicated to him fighting off several Wilding raiders with kitchen utensils during the siege of Castle Black.
  • Badass Creed:
    • The Night's Watch oath:
      "Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."
    • And the customary eulogy for a black brother?
      "And now his watch is ended."
  • Badass Decay:
    • Invoked about the Night's Watch, which has fallen on hard times. Of the veritable army that once existed to safeguard the realm, only a token militia of less than a thousand men remains. They are also severely under-equipped and can only afford to keep three of their nineteen castles along the Wall manned and maintained.
    • Evoked and discussed in-universe with Robert Baratheon, who was a mighty warrior. When the series begins he's living on past glories, is too fat for his armor, and spends his days partying and trying not to piss himself.
  • Badass Family: The Lannisters, Starks, Baratheons, and Targaryens all aspire to embody this trope, in various flavors and with various levels of success. The Cleganes, Umbers, and Mormonts seem to produce nothing but badasses.
  • Badass Gay:
    • While Loras' orientation gets him showered with pity, scorn and/or disgust, nobody doubts his skills as a fighter, even those who make fun of his homosexuality. Tywin, Olenna, and others have openly expressed amusement, disapproval or abhorrence at his tendencies, yet all have stated that he is a brave and capable warrior.
    • Oberyn Martell is a Badass Bisexual. His tendency to bed men as well as women doesn't stop Tyrion from worrying about The Red Viper leaving a trail of dead Lannisters in his wake when he shows up in King's Landing.
  • Badass Grandpa: Rodrik Cassel, who shrugs off a sword wound and defeats men half his age; Barristan Selmy, an artist who only uses red; Jeor Mormont, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch; and Tywin Lannister, one of the few men in the kingdom who can intimidate his grandson King Joffrey.
  • Badass Longcoat: Jaime pulls this off with a duster practically whenever he's not wearing his armor or in captivity.
  • Bad Bad Acting: In "Valar Morghulis," the Lannisters, their Small Council members, and the Tyrells enact a scene for the benefit of the court. Joffrey turns to his mother in anticipation for her line before Cersei starts speaking. Margaery enthusiastically participates in the rehearsed charade, but Loras is literally a bad actor. He can't be bothered do his small part properly, as his body language practically oozes with contempt for Joffrey, and Loras even messes up one of his lines because he inadvertently lets out a Freudian Slip regarding his feelings for Renly.
  • Bad Future: Dany gets a glimpse of this in the House of the Undying. The Red Keep is in ruins, winter has come (and hasn't left for a long time), everyone's dead, and snow sits on the Iron Throne.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Thoros of Myr is affable, polite, and generally a good man, but his primary ability is necromancy.
  • Bait the Dog: Joffrey Baratheon proves to be this. He starts off as a bratty, spoiled, prince that gets humbled and learned his lesson. He seems to get better and make an effort to be the kind of prince that would make a good king. Only to reveal his true colors after he becomes king. He has Ned Stark beheaded for treason, despite seemingly promising Sansa Stark, his fiancee and Ned's daughter, as well as his own mother, that he would spare him. He then goes on to mentally and physically torment Sansa and others at court. And once he gets his crossbow....
  • Balancing Death's Books: Arya releases three prisoners in danger of dying in a fire. One of them later invokes the trope and offers to kill any three people that she nominates.
  • Ballistic Discount: Daenerys buys the entire slave army of Astapor in return for a single dragon. Only hitch? The slaves are hers the moment she's holding the whip, while the dragon only obeys his mother. And Dany has come to really hate the slavers of Astapor...
  • Barbarian Longhair: The Dothraki never cut their hair unless they are defeated in battle.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Dothraki, the Wildlings, and the hill tribes.
  • Bar Brawl: Sandor gets into one with some of his brother's men he encounters in a tavern who want to haul him back to King's Landing for a reward.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Sandor grabs hold of Brienne's blade during their duel.
  • Bargain with Heaven: Lady Stark blames herself for the misfortunes of her family, rationalizing that it's all a punishment from the gods because she was unable to fulfill a promise about raising Jon Snow like her own son, a bargain made when he was very ill as a baby. Specifically, she prayed that he would die, because she hated that her husband had brought home a bastard. She then recants this and makes the vow after she realized what just happened.
  • Bastard Bastard: Bastards in Westeros are often mistrusted for being born of lust and deceit and having a vested interest in their trueborn siblings' demise. Although Jon Snow averts it, Ramsay Snow plays it straight.
  • Battle Trophy: For the Ironborn, jewellery taken from slain foes is the only kind a man should wear. This is known as "paying the iron price" and by contrast, "paying the gold price" is seen as effeminate.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Robb frees a Lannister scout to fool proud and proactive Lord Tywin into mistaking a diversion for Robb's main advance, allowing Robb to defeat and capture Jaime.
    • Tyrion feeds each member of the Small Council a different plan with instructions not to tell Cersei, knowing that Cersei's first reaction will be to confront him with the version given to her by the culprit. Varys sees through Tyrion's gambit immediately, but the culprit doesn't.
  • Battle Chant: Tyrion Lannister shows a surprising ability to inspire the Mountain Clans in "Baelor" and Lannister soldiers in "Blackwater". They respond with the cry of "Halfman!"
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Tyrion is prepared to march off to the Battle of the Green Fork, when he is trampled and falls unconscious before the battle even begins.
  • Bawdy Song: "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", a humorous song describing a sexual tryst between the eponymous bear and maiden.
  • The Beard: In Season 2, Margaery is shown to be well aware of her role, much to Renly's surprise. She tries to persuade him that even if he'd rather sleep with her brother, he still needs to father an heir to strengthen his position (and to make her a more convincing beard).
  • The Beautiful Elite: Just about everyone in Westeros nobility, with the glaring exception of Tyrion and Brienne.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played with constantly:
    • Many characters who are admired or trusted for their beautiful appearance — such as Cersei, Joffrey, and Margaery — are actually villainous, cruel, or manipulative while more honorable and compassionate characters like Tyrion and Brienne are mocked or despised for their unattractiveness.
    • Other characters play the trope straight. More heroic characters like Daenerys, Sansa, Robb, and Jon Snow are quite attractive and villainous or anti-villainous characters like Styr and the Hound are ugly or disfigured.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • In the books, Daenerys' hair is burned off in her Out of the Inferno moment. In the series, it's as fireproof as the rest of her — and not even a bit sooty.
    • Loras is a rare male example of this trope. In "Blackwater", he removes his helm and his curly hair looks perfect despite having fought a battle; he even does a mild Hair Flip. There doesn't appear to be a single scratch or bruise on him.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Jaime has to save Brienne after she's chucked in a bear pit in "The Bear and the Maiden Fair".
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: This is the reason why Brienne is in love with Renly. He's the only man who recognizes her worth as a human being and a warrior, and does not judge her based on her appearance or gender.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Sansa wishes to live in the royal court. Arya wishes for a live of adventure away from court and the restrictions of being a highborn lady. Robb wishes to be like his father and leads a rebellion, much like his father. Jon wants to join the Night's Watch. None of these wishes turn out like they were expecting.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • Between Jaime and Brienne.
    • To an extent, Sansa and The Hound.
  • Beneath the Mask:
    • During his private moments, Renly is shown to be more insecure than the confident facade that he projects in public.
    • When Varys gets really serious, he drops his Sissy Villain act.
    • When in private, and once when confronted by Lord Tywin in a deleted scene, Grand Maester Pycelle drops the RamblingOldManMonologues, bent back, aching knees and elderly befuddlement act to reveal a cunning, strong old man only acting the part, so as to avoid the "wrong" kind of attention.
  • Benevolent Boss: In "Two Swords," Olenna motivates her handmaidens by rewarding the one who finds the best necklace for Margaery with the second-best necklace.
  • Best Friends In Law: Renly and Loras are lovers, and Renly marries Loras' sister Margaery. This not only gives Renly the army he needs for his claim to the throne, but also keeps Loras close to him. Margaery even offers to let Loras help consummate the marriage.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Jaime Lannister guesses that boys had tried to force themselves on the gigantic Brienne of Tarth, and that she secretly wished that one of them could overpower her and take her virginity. She declines to confirm the guess, saying only that no man ever succeeded.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: In "Blackwater", Ilyn Payne stands guard over the holdfast where the highborn women and children are holed up. Cersei initially claims he's there as protection, but as part of tormenting Sansa tells her that he is there to kill them. Cersei herself has procured a vial of poison.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Daenerys proves, in "Fire and Blood", that she's no longer someone you screw with, when she has Mirri tied to Drogo's funeral pyre to burn alive as punishment for deceiving Dany. And as blood magic to hatch her dragons. She goes on to prove pretty merciless to more people who cross her. On more than one occasion she uses the fact that she looks like (and indeed is still) a cute, innocent-looking teenager to catch enemies off-guard; and occasionally her allies, too.
    • The Lannisters take a little too long to learn this lesson about Robb Stark.
    • Arya is a good person, but takes vengeance dead seriously.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Bran enters Hodor's mind, something Jojen says no one else can do.
  • BFS: Eddard Stark's greatsword Ice is, in Tywin Lannister's words, "absurdly large". So much so that when Eddard is executed Tywin has it reforged into two longswords.
  • Bi the Way: Oberyn Martell and his lover Ellaria Sand.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence:
    • "Blackwater" is almost entirely composed of the Battle of the Blackwater.
    • "The Watchers on the Wall" is almost entirely composed of the Wildlings' siege of Castle Black.
  • Big Bad Ensemble:
    • Tywin Lannister and Joffrey Baratheon head the Lannister faction, though Joffrey's assassination does nothing but tighten the Lannister grip on the throne, showing that Tywin is and has always been the true threat. Then he gets killed by his son Tyrion, making him a Disc One Final Boss.
    • Littlefinger is another top contender, since he masterminded the entire War of the Five Kings, orchestrated Joffrey's assassination with Olenna Tyrell, is Lord Protector of a rich, fertile region that isn't suffering from war deprivation and now has Villain with Good Publicity courtesy of Sansa Stark.
    • Balon Greyjoy becomes one in Season 2 when he invades the North for revenge and conquest. He has become something of a Diminishing Villain Threat since he has only one other appearance after that and the Ironborn are driven away from Moat Cailin, allowing the Boltons to take military possession of the North.
    • Mance Rayder has gathered a massive horde of Wildlings to attack the Wall, but he's actually trying to save his people from the White Walkers.
    • Roose Bolton is the Big Bad in the North after Season 3.
  • Big Bad Wannabe:
    • Viserys Targaryen tries to amass an army to take back the Seven Kingdoms from King Robert, but despite marrying off his sister to Khal Drogo he never gets any respect from the Dothraki due to his arrogance and disrespect for their customs. He gets fed up with waiting on Drogo to fulfill his promise, and is killed after he threatens both Daenerys and Drogo's unborn son.
    • Cersei Lannister tries to be the political heavyweight of the Lannisters at first while her father is out in the field, seizing the throne from Ned Stark and Robert's brothers on Joffrey's behalf and Tywin's consent. Joffrey quickly undermines her power by going over her head to execute Ned, and this pisses off Tywin so much that he sidelines her in favor of Tyrion to get things back in order in the capital.
    • Joffrey thinks of himself as a magnificently powerful king, but is instead just a cruel bully and a coward. His constant boasts of crushing his enemies and hacking apart his rivals ring hollow when all of his schemes are made by others, and he cowers away from any physical threat.
  • Big Brother Bully: Robert and Stannis have bullied Renly for possessing zero aptitude for warfare.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Tywin Lannister and Loras Tyrell arriving just in time to save King's Landing from being overrun by Stannis Baratheon.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Jon and Ygritte in "The Climb".
  • Bigger Bad: The White Walkers to the War of the Five Kings and the villainous characters responsible for it (Tywin, Joffrey, Littlefinger, Balon, etc.). Their threat overshadows any other in the setting, but most factions aren't even aware of them and facing lesser but more immediate enemies.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Hodor's package is Osha-approved. Tyrion also claims that it's his one gift of size.
  • The Big Board: Stannis' table carved in the shape of Westeros. And of the various maps shown, Robb Stark's map set with carved wooden animals and miniature sigils of the various House forces gets the most close-ups.
  • Big Little Brother: Loras is several inches taller than Margaery, and book readers (and probably most viewers) naturally assumed that he is the older sibling. However, Word of God has established that Margaery is the eldest Tyrell child on the show.
  • Big Little Man: Tyrion Lannister is introduced talking face-to-face with Ros, who is crouched down. It's not until she stands up that we see Tyrion is a dwarf.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Brienne yells this in Season 2 after Melisandre's shadow demon kills Renly by stabbing him through the heart.
    • Maester Luwin reacts this way to Theon's display in "A Man Without Honor".
    • Stannis near the end of the Battle of the Blackwater.
    • In Season 3, Brienne desperately screams as she is about to be sexually assaulted by Locke's gang.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Lannisters, the Freys, and Craster's hut of incest.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "Breaker of Chains," when the Meereenese rider challenges Dany, he shouts a Valyrian translation of the French taunter scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Cersei and Joffrey both deceive Sansa with this in Season 1.
  • Bizarre Seasons: The seasons last for years. Summer officially ended at the beginning of Season 2, but winter is still coming.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Pretty much applies to everyone in a series where there are few if any 100% heroes or villains.
  • Black and White Insanity: Melisandre believes in a constant struggle between the good force of Light and the evil force of Darkness. Consequently, anything that does not align with the Lord of Light is evil and must be destroyed because if half an onion is black with rot, it is a rotten onion.
  • The Blacksmith: Gendry, holding up the family tradition of wielding hammers.
  • Black Comedy: Although the series is, overall, very bleak in tone, it does not take itself too seriously enough for there not to be laughs. Especially when much of the humour stems from making light of all the horrible things that happen.
  • Black Sheep:
    • Tyrion Lannister for being a dwarf whose birth killed his mother.
    • Jon Snow, to a lesser degree, for being a bastard raised along with his trueborn siblings.
    • Theon Greyjoy among the Starks for being a hostage and among the Greyjoys for being raised among a different culture.
    • Sam Tarly for being the fat, timid, and bookish son of a great warrior.
    • House Baratheon is primarily known as a family of warriors, and Renly is viewed as something of an embarrassment because he is often criticized by his brothers for being a non-fighter.
    • The Blackfish's nickname is a reference to this trope, caused by an argument with his older brother.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Robb inquires about his mother's behavior towards Jon while the latter visited Bran's bedside in "The Kingsroad". Jon answers, "She was very kind."
    • When Robert (who is ignorant of his youngest brother's homosexuality) asks him, "Have you ever fucked a Riverlands girl?" Renly replies vaguely "Once, I think."
    • In "What Is Dead May Never Die", Renly blames the wine for his inability to perform, but Margaery sees right through his charade.
    • Lancel's account of the Battle of Oxcross includes a ridiculous story where Robb had used sorcery to conjure an army of wolves.
    • Brienne claims that she did not fancy Renly, but Jaime intuitively senses that she did.
    • Margaery telling Joffrey in "Dark Wings, Dark Words", "The subtleties of politics are often lost on me."
    • When Jaime asks Loras if he is looking forward to his wedding to Cersei, the young knight hesitates for a moment before replying "Yes, very much."
  • Bling of War:
    • Jaime's golden armor, in striking contrast to the utilitarian armor worn by the Stark household guard. Lampshaded by Ned: "Very handsome armor. Not a scratch on it."
    • Loras' very shiny and flowery armor at the Tourney of the Hand. It's slightly modified in Season 2 so that it's more practical for an actual battle.
    • This featurette reveals that Renly's armour (which included velvet fabric) was the most complicated costume created for the first two seasons of the show.
    • Joffrey's armor and gilded sword. His crossbow is adorned with gems as well.
    • While acting as Hand of the King, Tyrion gets a lavish suit of armor cleverly adorned with golden hands.
    • Despite Tyrion's request, Bronn refuses to wear the flashy attire of the City Watch because a cloak slows you down in a fight and the gold prevents concealment.
  • Blondes Are Evil and Blond Guys Are Evil: The Lannisters. Although some later subvert it, others continue to play it straight.
  • Blood Knight:
    • The Dothraki are an entire race who live this trope. A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair.
    • Daario Naharis declares that killing enemies and consensual sex are the greatest pleasures in life.
  • Blood Magic: Mirri Maz Duur knows it, calling it by name, and warns Dany that it has a terrible price. Later Melisandre also used it to (apparently successfully) kill Stannis' enemies.
  • Blunder Correcting Impulse: During the funeral of Lord Hoster Tully, Edmure Tully is charged with ending the ceremony by firing a flaming arrow at the floating pyre. After he misses three times in a row, his uncle Blackfish takes over and hits on the first try.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal
    • When the Gold Cloaks turn on Ned at the end of "You Win Or You Die".
    • Also, what the Kingslayer did to the Mad King. He deserved it though.
    • During the Battle of Blackwater Tyrion is attacked by his Kingsguard escort.
  • Bodyguard Crush:
    • Ser Jorah Mormont is in love with Daenerys Targaryen.
    • Renly was the object of affection for both Loras (an unusual reciprocal example because they form a same-sex couple) and Brienne (a rare gender inversion of the trope) while they were members of his Kingsguard.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: The Dothraki follow the strongest member of the khalasar, so the khal is, by definition, more badass than his bloodriders.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: King Robert Baratheon, Greatjon Umber, and Tormund Giantsbane.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Samwell in the Season 2 finale, being surrounded by White Walkers.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Syrio Forel prepares to duel a member of the Kingsguard, with a broken wooden sword, while Arya makes her escape.
  • Book Ends:
    • Season 1 begins with the discovery of the wolf and stag carcasses as an omen of the fall of the Stark and Baratheon houses. Ends with the hatching of Dany's dragons symbolizing the resurgence of House Targaryen. Appropriately, the first and last episode of Season 1 (where these two events take place) are titled "Winter is Coming" and "Fire and Blood", the words of houses Stark and Targaryen, respectively. Also, in the beginning and ending episodes of Season 1, Black Brothers ride under the Wall.
    • Inverted by the last episode of Season 2 and the first episode of Season 3: "Valar Morghulis" and "Valar Dohaeris" are Valyrian Arc Words that are often seen together, translating to "All men must die," and "All men must serve."
  • Boomerang Bigot: Brienne sneers with particular disdain that Jaime is acting like a woman. While she clearly respects some women, such as Catelyn, Brienne has spent her whole life turning her back on traditional feminine pursuits and behavior.
  • Born in the Saddle: The Dothraki.
  • Braids of Action: Daenerys's hairstyle slowly becomes more and more braided as her character grows throughout the first season. By the season finale, her hair is in a single thick braid. This is likely linked to the Dothraki custom of warriors braiding their hair and decorating them with bells. A warrior adds bells to his braid for each victory, and, should he be defeated in battle, the braid would be cut off so the world can know his shame.
  • Brains and Brawn:
    • Tyrion to Bronn and the Hill Tribes.
    • Bran to Osha and Hodor, though Osha has her own brand of cleverness.
    • Tyrion also alludes to this with him and his brother, although Jaime is by no metric dumb.
  • Brain Bleach: The look on Theon's face when he realizes that the woman he attempted to seduce, and even groped, was his big sister Yara!
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Tyrion is very fond of this peculiar conjuction:
    • In one episode Tyrion asks Bronn what he wants. "Gold? Women? Golden women?"
    • On another episode, Tyrion says, "We've had vicious kings, and we've had idiot kings, but I don't know if we've ever been cursed with a vicious idiot for a king!"
    • When Tywin chides him for spending his days bedding harlots and drinking with thieves, Tyrion retorts he occasionally drinks with the harlots.
    • In "Dark Wings, Dark Words", he protests to Shae saying "This is cruel and unfair. Cruelly unfair."
    • Oberyn Martell gets in on the act when he sneers at a couple of Lannister men about their "gold, and lions, and golden lions."
    • The Nights Watch is going over their latest batch of 'recruits'. "Raper, raper, thief, thief and raper..."
  • Break the Cutie: Sansa starts out as a spoiled brat and blindly loyal to her fiance, Joffrey. Having her intended chop her daddy's head off and then show it to her on a spike cures her of that.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Throughout Season 3, Theon is tortured to insanity by Ramsay Snow.
    • Jaime Lannister remains unbroken by months of captivity, but that all changes when he loses his sword hand.
    • In ''The Mountain and the Viper", Oberyn is cool and generally badass the entire fight against Gregor (and for that matter, the whole season), but in the moments leading up to his...gruesome death, Gregor has him so utterly broken he's screaming like a child.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In "The Kingsroad", Tyrion mentions he wants to visit the Wall so he can "piss off the edge of the world." He goes through with it, to Jon Snow's amusement, near the end of "Lord Snow."
    • Also, the possibility of a Dothraki invasion:
      Daenerys: If my brother was given an army of Dothraki, could he conquer The Seven Kingdoms?
      Mormont: [...] King Robert is fool enough to meet them in open battle. But the men advising him are different.
      —-
      King Robert: Only a fool would meet the Dothraki in the open field. note 
    • Two members of Dany's khalasar discuss how to best steal a giant golden peacock from their host in Qarth, and she reprimands them. In "Valar Morghulis" two men can be seen behind Dany, as she walks from Xaro's house... carrying a giant golden peacock.
    • In Season 2, Tyrion complains about all the Jerkass Gods and asks, "Where's the god of tits and wine?" In Season 3, while even more drunk than usual Tyrion proclaims himself this particular god to annoy his father.
  • Bring My Brown Pants:
    • King Robert is reminiscing about his first kill, and says that the minstrels never sing about how people shit themselves when they're mortally wounded.
    • Salladhor Saan tells two prostitutes a variation on the Trope Naming joke, only for both of them to shout out the punchline simultaneously.
  • British Accents: Appropriately, the Northerners speak (on the whole) with Yorkshire accents-Sean Bean's native Sheffield accent is perhaps the best example. The Southerners (on the whole) speak with more of a London/RP accent-Cersei and Joffrey are good examples. Daenerys and Viserys both speak with an RP accent, befitting their status as exiled royalty from King's Landing. This follows the North/South accent distribution in England. There also seems to be a tendency for characters from the Vale to speak with Irish accents, most notably with Littlefinger's slight lilt, and several of the background characters from the episodes set in this area have these accents as well. The Ironborn (not counting House Greyjoy themselves) speak with a West Country "pirate" accent. Wildlings speak with Northern English or Scottish accents.
  • Broke Episode: An arc played out throughout Season 4, where the War of the Five Kings starts taking a toll on the economy of Westeros with even the wealthy Lannisters severely strapped for cash under the looming threat of the Iron Bank of Braavos.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Jon's discovery that the Night's Watch is an Army of Thieves and Whores rather than the ancient and noble order he believed them to be.
    • Sansa idolized Cersei ("I'll be a queen just like you!") until her father was executed and she was held captive.
  • Brother-Sister Incest:
    • Targaryens used to practice marrying brother to sister to preserve the purity of their bloodline (which could have led to the madness of their last king).
    • Also, Cersei and Jaime Lannister.
  • Brother-Sister Team:
    • Margaery and Loras form this in their three-way marriage to Renly. Unlike Cersei and Joffrey's barely concealed discord in "Valar Dohaeris", the Tyrell siblings are very much in sync during the dinner conversation.
    • Viserys has this in mind with regards to Dany as they prepare to take back the Iron Throne. It doesn't work out.
  • Brown Eyes: Unlike his book counterpart, Renly on the show has brown eyes, and he's considerably more sensible and stable than either of his brothers.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • When Cersei asks Robert if there was ever a possibility of their marriage working, he bluntly tells her no.
    • Stannis freely admits the he and Robert never loved each other when Matthos is dictating a letter for him.
      Stannis: He wasn't "my beloved brother." I didn't love him. He didn't love me.
      Davos: A harmless courtesy, Your Grace.
      Stannis: A lie. Take it out.
    • Renly is usually snarky with Littlefinger, but in Garden of Bones, he is sick of beating around the bush, as their banter no longer amuses him.
      Renly: I don't like you, Lord Baelish. I don't like your face, I don't like the words that come oozing out of your mouth. I don't want you in my tent one minute more than necessary.
    • Tywin is brutally honest with Tyrion and Cersei regarding his analysis of their deficiencies. He's never one to spare someone's feelings.
    • Olenna, the "Queen of Thorns," generally doesn't care about being polite; she's very forthright with her opinions.
  • The Brute: Gregor Clegane.
  • The Bully:
    • Ser Alliser Thorne bullies his recruits and encourages bullying among them, though he claims that this is necessary to toughen them up.
    • Rast bullies Sam at the Wall.
    • Lommy and Hot Pie try to bully Arya, but they're mostly just putting on a tough front. After an altercation, they all get along fairly well.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Viserys, extortionist and self-proclaimed dragon, threatens the life of Khal Drogo's unborn child and gets subsequently killed by the warlord at the first chance.
    • Mirri, in a (somewhat) literal example.
    • In the Season 2 finale, Pyat Pree, in a literal example after the fact, is killed by the infant dragons of Daenerys, his captive. Since he is not aware of any possible backfire at this early stage of development it can also be classified as Mugging the Monster.
    • Craster feels confident enough to insult and threaten the Night's Watch men in his home despite being one man surrounded by dozens of armed soldiers, many of whom are rapists and murderers. He gets away with it because the Night's Watch needs an ally beyond the Wall, but he eventually pushes them too far.
  • Burning the Flag: In "Mhysa", there is a shot of a [[spoilers: Stark flag burning, symbolizing the defeat of the Northern rebellion after the Red Wedding.]]
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In the Season 3 episode "Walk of Punishment," Arya meets the Hound (Sandor Clegane) again at the same little inn where the Hound killed her friend, Mycah the butcher's boy, way back in the second episode of the series (The Kingsroad). Arya asks "Do you remember what happened the last time you were here?", but the Hound has no idea what she's talking about at the time.
  • But Not Too Gay: Renly and Loras' intimate scenes are not nearly as sexually explicit as the heterosexual (and one lesbian) pairings on the show.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Theon Greyjoy is distrusted and treated like dirt by pretty much everyone except Robb. Even his own people are contemptuous of him. His misfortune is played for drama in Seasons 3 and 4.
    • Lancel Lannister serves as Robert's put-upon squire. Later on, his smug attitude is quickly shot down when he's blackmailed by Tyrion and even Cersei gets to punch him after one display of valor.
    • Tyrion is constantly ridiculed for being a dwarf, gets the worst treatment from his father by far, and almost all of his actions are undone in the long run.
    • The Starks and Tullys are a rare heroic and excruciating example, as nothing ever seems to go well for either of them.

    Series/Game of ThronesTropes C to D

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